Napier councillors are concerned about the impact the new multi-million dollar aquatic centre will have on the future ability to expand a busy intersection.

The site of the $41 million build used to be designated by NZ Transport Agency for future roading development.

Councillor Larry Dallimore said he worked for NZTA's predecessor, the Ministry of Works, in the 1970s, and the land had already be designated for future development at that time.

He said if the road was ever upgraded from an expressway to a motorway, the intersection would have to become a two level crossing.

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"By taking that land over, re-designating it for a pool, as opposed to a motorway, it limits the ability to put in a two level interchange."

He said Napier's residential area is expanding into the western hills, and Prebensen Drive is a main thoroughfare to the city centre.

"Someone in the future is going to have to work around it, or we are going to have to be without a motorway intersection."

Larry Dallimore says a new pool proposed for outer Napier limits the ability to put in a two level interchange at a nearby intersection. Photo / File
Larry Dallimore says a new pool proposed for outer Napier limits the ability to put in a two level interchange at a nearby intersection. Photo / File

Councillor Richard McGrath, who has been a vocal opponent of the pool, said you didn't have to be a "rocket scientist" to realise that with population growth, and the port expansion, the intersection would need upgrading in the future.

"If we build a building which is good for 50 years ... then they are going to be limited as to what they can do on that site."

"It's potentially very shortsighted of council."

NZTA Regional Transport Systems Manager Oliver Postings confirmed the site had, until recently, been designated for future roading development.

"Napier City Council approached the Transport Agency under the provisions of the RMA seeking relaxation of the current designation to allow the site to be used for a new pool complex, as part of the resource consent process."

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"The agency has no plans within the next 10 years to upgrade the Prebensen Drive/Hawke's Bay Expressway roundabout and as such we are not able to refuse this request."

"We have given our formal consent to Napier City Council in accordance with the RMA process."

A Napier City Council spokesperson said council received a letter from NZTA earlier this year saying the designation was being removed.

They said they could not comment on the possibility of future improvement work, as the road was under the jurisdiction on NZTA.

The land is owned by Napier City Council.

The new aquatic centre has proved controversial with residents, and is currently embroiled in a court case.

The Friends of Onekawa Centre Society has filed an injunction to suspend the tendering process which is currently under way, after council approved the scope of tender by a one vote margin in April.